Friday, 21 October 2011

Annual Energy Institute Dinner

On Tuesday night I attended the Annual Energy Institute Dinner at which Minister Pat Rabbitte spoke on Government energy policy. The dinner was hosted by the Republic of Ireland branch of the Energy Institute currently chaired by David Taylor who was Sustainable Energy Ireland's first CEO.

Minister Rabbitte identified the key priority as 'the delivery of our vital energy infrastructure projects to underpin security of supply.....development of GRID 25 is critical to our long term economic recovery… has been argued in some quarters that the severe step down in economic activity ought to result in pulling back investment in this area…..but infrastructure investments are long term investments by nature.....they increase competition and assist in achieving our ambitious renewable targets'. Link to Speech.

Therefore it was 'game set and match' to the continued investment in grid developments including North South and East West interconnectors and in renewable energy projects all of which Engineers Ireland strongly support in our State of Ireland Infrastructure Report of May 2011.

The lack of interconnectors between Ireland and the UK 'is imposing significant costs on electricity generators and consumers on both sides of the border' the Minister added.

He also spoke of the national importance of the Corrib project which 'is capable of supplying over 60% of Ireland's natural gas needs - this underlines the strategic importance of the project'.

With regard to further oil and gas exploration, he ruled out any prospect of a state exploration company as a 'persistent myth' together with any further need for changes in the exploration 'fiscal regime'. The reasons for this are very clear from his announcements of the previous day on the '2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round' - of the 13 exploration licences issued, many are new entrants and there were no signs of any interest from the large global energy companies.

The message from the major oil and gas industry players was very clear - Ireland is not fully open for business based on legacy issues which we all understand.

The Minister also drew attention to the 'development over the new few years of a significantly more interconnected pan European energy market'. Ireland he said 'will ultimately be a small part of very large European regional electricity and gas markets'.

He concluded by stating that the current review of national policy by the International Energy Agency (IEA) will inform a new Energy Policy Framework to be published in 2012 which will replace the 2007 Energy White Paper.

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